There is nothing to fear in Life. And, in fact, no one to fear. All you have to ask is – “What am I afraid of?” – and you will be fearless.
Fearlessness comes from a deeper understanding of the Self. Of knowing that everything is transient. Impermanent. This Life, your name, your acquisitions, your fame, your wealth, your relationships and your memories of the Life you have lived – everything, absolutely everything, will become irrelevant, when you die. So, all the feelings of insecurity, anxiety and fear that grip you in everyday Life situations are meaningless. Just let go and accept Life’s transient nature. You too will discover that there’s nothing to be afraid of – and no point in being afraid of anything!
Here’s a popular Zen story on fear that Osho, the Master, used to narrate. A man walking in the night slipped and fell from a rocky path, at the edge of a precipice. Afraid he would fall down thousands of feet, because he knew that just at the edge of the path was a very deep valley, he grabbed hold of a branch of a tree that was growing out of the edge of the precipice. In the darkness of the night all he could see below him was a bottomless abyss. He shouted for help and his own shouts echoed back – there was nobody to hear him or come to his rescue. You can imagine that man, and his night of torture. Every moment there was death below, his hands were becoming cold, he was losing his grip…but he managed to hold on, and as the sun came out he looked down…and he laughed! There was no abyss. Just six inches below his feet there was a rock ledge. He could have rested the whole night and slept well. The ledge was big enough – but instead, because he was afraid of the imaginary abyss and the whole night had been a nightmare.
Osho says it is entirely up to you whether you want to, metaphorically, cling on to “your branches and spend whole nights in fear” or if you really want to “let go and land on your own feet”. The import here is not to say that you must foolishly plunge into an unknown abyss. What is being said here is that when you can address Life deeply and know that everything that you are afraid of losing, including your Life, will at some point be taken away from you, then you turn fearless and live your Life freely – and fully!
To be sure, fearlessness is not being without fear. In fact, everyone – anyone – will have fear. Fearlessness comes when you can face your fears, and through your understanding of Life, reason with your fears and realize that being fearful is pointless. This understanding will lead you to appreciate Life better – that all that you fear losing will perish including your body, but the real you, your true Self, who you don’t quite think about or relate to, will carry on, as it is immortal and, therefore, fearless!
Don’t fear being vulnerable. Be true. When you are true, primarily to yourself and then to whatever you believe in, then you need no defense. And nothing, no one, can touch you!
Often times in Life, we fear that people will exploit us. That they will want to “use” our vulnerability to their advantage. While conceptually, in a world where everyone is fighting to win at the cost of someone else, this may appear to be true, in reality this is hardly so. The world is not infested with blood and flesh thirsty sharks and vultures as we imagine. But is inhabited by perfectly normal, compassionate, beautiful, loving people__just like you and me. So, when you wear your Life on your sleeve, when you expose your stark vulnerability, you will discover how kind people really are.
I have often found that saying things as they are, the truth, always helps. It may lead to people drawing different meanings from what you say. But Life is not about inferences and interpretations. Because when you bring in either inference or interpretation, then you are bringing in logic. And there’s no logic to and in Life. Life is about experiences. And people are going through experiences similar to yours, or they have already been there, all the time.
When you are vulnerable, you are willing to face Life. And face the consequences. Even death perhaps. When you are in that state, you are never insecure. Insecurity comes when you fear that you will lose something __ your position, your status, your title, your wealth, your reputation or your Life. At times, you may fear losing someone. But if you are past that fear, then your vulnerability is an asset, never a liability. Of course, chances are that there may be a few exploiters who will step into the ring. But face them. When you look them in the eye, they will step back. Exploitation cannot stand the brilliant gaze of truth. Exploiters can never face the courageous. When someone whose weapon is fear, recognizes you are fearless, then he or she becomes fearful. This is how Life works!
Try this in any situation you are faced with currently. Whatever you have wanted to say or do, if you have held it back because you thought of yourself as becoming vulnerable, go do exactly that now. Watch what happens. How much ever you may think it to be potentially disadvantageous, you will always find that your being true leads the world around you to be true as well. Remember this: you cannot live in fear, you can merely exist. To live fully, you have to wear your Life on your sleeve.